Update from Christian Peacemaker Teams:
Bringing peace to Colombia: one prayer, one conversation at a time
by Carol Foltz Spring
October 25, 2002
In our work as Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) we plant seeds of peace daily. We do not know which of the seeds will bear fruit, but each time we talk about peace it can be a seed.
On October 11, 2002, Lena Siegers (Blyth, ON) and two members of a recent
CPT delegation to Colombia saw a lineup of armed men along the
riverbank. The three were headed down the Opon River at midday in CPT's
motorized metal canoe. The dozen armed men represented a local
paramilitary group. They wore new, matching uniforms with insignia of
their organization. Paramilitaries are the illegal armed group responsible
for approximately 80% of politically motivated kidnappings and killings in
The leader of the group asked Lena to leave and mentioned that there was
another group downriver. She said, "First we'll pray." The group of
CPTers joined hands on the riverbank and Lena prayed loud enough for all to
hear. After they finished singing "Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying,"
the men were gone.
The CPTers then followed the men downriver where they encountered another group of paramilitaries, standing at attention with their feet apart, from
the same unit. Each carried an assault rifle slung over his shoulder. The
commander was surprised to see the CPTers and wanted to talk to Lena
immediately, but she shook hands with each of the young men first. When
she began speaking with the commander, everything got quiet. She talked
with him about CPT, about nonviolence, about vengeance that only creates
Meanwhile, Barbara and Charlotte talked with the other armed men. The men
were all in their teens and twenties and spoke respectfully with the young
The commander politely asked to speak. "The newspapers say bad things
about usit's all propaganda. We work for peace, for the people. We are
farmers too." He said his superior was trained in the United States.